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Enhanced Portlets 493
494
The Application Integrator Portlet
Summary 495
Index 497
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Foreword




The explosion of access to information and applications, made possible by
the Internet and the World Wide Web, has given rise to a new set of chal-
lenges for information technology professionals. Portal frameworks such
as WebSphere Portal Server provide capabilities and services needed to
meet requirements for consistent administration, look and feel, and nav-
igation across all of these sources of content. In addition, portals enable
productivity-enhancing services such as single sign-on and role-dependent
personalization that bring the right tools and information to the right people
in an organization. When combined with tools such as WebSphere Studio
Application Developer, used for the development of specialty components
(portlets), a portal becomes not only an essential element of any system
integration strategy but also a fundamental tool for the development and
deployment of new applications.
Software development frameworks evolve out of the observation of pro-
gramming patterns that frequently recur throughout the industry. Uses of
programming techniques such as CGI“bin .exe™s, Pearl scripts, and the like
have required programmers to re-create or recode basic services such as
memory and thread management, security, authentication, connections to
database and back-end data sources, and markup generation libraries. Frus-
tration with these repetitive tasks and initiatives like the Java Community
Process gave rise to formalized frameworks of services such as J2EE appli-
cation servers. J2EE application servers are now commonplace and widely
deployed in many enterprises.
As enterprises require more and more integration among their applica-
tion systems and as Web-based user interfaces have become the hub of ap-
plication access, the J2EE model has been stretched and adapted. As before,


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xviii Foreword


we can observe patterns of use in many enterprises centered around the
aggregation of content, applications, and services, which makes it easy to
create navigational models over the aggregation. Techniques such as JSP-
includes were used to assemble larger applications out of pieces. However,
these pieces lacked formal speci¬cations for life cycle management and a
contract between the components and their container. From these reuse pat-
terns, IBM and others developed the speci¬cations for a reusable component
model, portlets. Formalization of portlets led directly to the development of
management applications for portlets, or portal frameworks, and to a new
breed of products to extend the capabilities of J2EE, such as WebSphere
Portal (WP).
Portals and their building blocks, portlets, are quickly becoming “norms”
for enterprise class application development and deployment environments.
As components, portlets encapsulate Web applications in a life cycle and
rendering scheme that makes them manageable and aggregatable by por-
tals. The speci¬cations for portlets are becoming codi¬ed by industry stan-
dards such as the Java Community JSR 168 and the corresponding Web
services standard, WSRP. Portlets can be arbitrarily combined with other
portlets to create more complex assemblies and navigational structures.
This composition makes possible administrative assembly of applications.
As the standards mature, they are being enhanced with capabilities that
make it possible for portlets to interact with one another and send data and
control signals that make portlets work together. Indeed, portlet composi-
tion can be thought of as a generalized component assembly programming
model in which individually developed components are wired together
to form new, more complex components. This powerful model will fun-
damentally change the way Enterprise Applications are built. Instead of
monolithic application structures, applications will be built of modular,
reusable components. Standards will ensure that the development and de-
ployment models are portable and reusable across many environments. In
addition, catalogs of prebuilt application pieces will enable business pro-
fessionals with a keen understanding of the business to construct solutions
that today projects require in the IT department.
Looking to the future, we see the continued evolution of the portal-based
programming model leading to advanced “workplace” style applications.
Workplaces bring an unprecedented level of user and administrator control
to the design and deployment of component-based solutions. In a work-
place, the role of the individual and the intersection of this role with the
work processes that go on in all businesses are paramount. Workplaces,
which are fundamentally based on the concepts and technology of por-
tals and portlets, combine advanced notions of community, self-service,
business process modeling, and management to form powerful and enter-
prise productivity-enhancing systems. Mastery of the portal concepts and
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Foreword xix


techniques will help all information technology professionals, not just Java
programmers, to solve the future information and application integration
challenges of their organizations.
Ron Ben-Natan, Richard Gornitsky, Tim Hanis, and Ori Sasson have au-
thored an authoritative “must-have” guide to the capabilities of WP. Master-
ing IBM WebSphere Portal contains all that one must know to get started and
become pro¬cient with the portal application development and delivery
environment. Beginning with the basics of installation and con¬guration,
moving through the user interface concepts of skins, themes and tag li-
braries, and ultimately system administration, you will come to understand
all of the essentials for working with WP. In addition, the authors explore
the prebuilt capabilities for collaboration among portal users. Finally, you™ll
learn the ins and outs of the portal and portlet programming models and
best practices for developing and debugging your own portlets.
Portals extend Enterprise Application development to the next level. All
application developers and system administrators can bene¬t from a thor-
ough understanding of the power and ¬‚exibility offered by this new breed
of system framework. I hope you enjoy Mastering IBM WebSphere Portal, and
¬nd that the next-generation environment of the WP truly enables enhanced
productivity and improved business results.

Douglass Wilson
Distinguished Engineer, CTO,
IBM Lotus Software Division
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Acknowledgments




The authors would like to thank the following people whose efforts were
critical to the success of this book. Speci¬cally we would like to thank Mike
Rhodin, Larry Bowden, Douglass Wilson, Hershel Harris, Brandon Smith,
and Bill Swatling for their support and encouragement. We would also like
to thank Mike Durham, Kathy Sitar, and Uwe Zimmerman for their help
in involving us in the WebSphere Portal 5.0 Beta program. Special thanks
go to Theresa Smit, Jeffrey Hay, Stefan Hepper, Jim Bonanno, Lisa Tomita,
Rob Davis, Ashok Iyengar, George Fridrich, and Venkata Gadepalli for their
invaluable help in performing the technical review.
This book would not have come to fruition without the patience and
dedication of our editors Jim Minatel and Scott Amerman.




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About the Authors




Ron Ben-Natan is Chief Technical Of¬cer at Guardium, a leader in database
and data access security. Ron is an expert in the ¬eld of portals, portal
integration, and portal security. He has developed portal platforms for
the telecommunication and energy industries, a security portal, and has
been involved in the implementation of numerous enterprise portals. He is
also an expert in distributed computing, J2EE applications, application and
database security, and Web services. He has published 8 technical books in-
cluding several best-selling WebSphere Application Server books and over
40 technical articles.
Richard Gornitsky is a Consulting I/T Architect for IBM Software Services
for Lotus whose expertise is in integrating WebSphere Portal in Fortune
500 ¬rms from concept to production. He has extensive experience in the
full life cycle development of high transaction solutions, which includes si-
multaneously managing multiple large complex application development
and infrastructure projects. His industry experience includes ¬nance, insur-
ance, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, software manufacturing, and
retail/distribution. Gornitsky is a requested technical speaker.
Tim Hanis is a Senior Software Engineer at IBM in Research Triangle Park,
North Carolina. He holds computer science degrees from Penn State Uni-
versity and North Carolina State University. He is the lead developer for
WP business portlets and has extensive experience in helping customers
solve business problems using WebSphere products. Tim can be reached at
hanistt@us.ibm.com.




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xxiv About the Authors


Ori Sasson Ori Sasson is an independent software consultant operating out
of Singapore. He is an expert in Java Enterprise Development with J2EE,
business integration, data mining, and systems security. He has authored
fourtechnical books and several technical articles.
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Introduction




If you are a user of Web applications you are also most likely a user of
portals. If you develop, manage, or administer Web applications, then you
are probably already building or managing Web portals or have thought
that you should get started with portal technologies. If you fall into any one
of these categories and your Web technology of choice is IBM™s WebSphere
then this book is for you.
Web portals are becoming the de facto standard for packaging Web ap-
plications, and Web applications are increasingly being developed as “por-
tal plugins” (often called portlets). Regardless of whether the domain is
consumer applications or business applications, portals have become the
consensus user interface for Web applications. In the consumer world all
major Web sites present a portal look and feel: Yahoo and MyYahoo, MSN,
and Amazon are just commonly known examples. If you work for a large
corporation you probably have some form of corporate portal”offering
you various human resources (HR), ¬nance, and corporate communication
applications in a portal-like environment.
Why are Web portals so successful? Because they bring together impor-
tant functions such as integration, presentation, organization, and
customizations”functions that are needed in every complex application
environment. Why have they succeeded in Web application environments?
Because these application environments tend to be highly complex, pro-
vide tens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of disparate applications
and serve huge user populations”sometimes many millions of users.
Given this very real need, companies have been offering portal server
technologies since the dawn of Web applications. But like other information
technology domains, portals too have gone through a maturation process.


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